An NHS boss has told shoppers who have been stockpiling they should be “ashamed” of themselves for panic buying.
NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis’ comments, at a 10 Downing Street press conference, came after days in which supermarkets have seen their shelves stripped of food by shoppers fearful of running out during the coronavirus shutdown.
Retailers revealed that hoarders are storing £1 billion worth of goods in their homes, creating shortages despite the fact that manufacturers have produced 50 per cent more food in the last week than usual.
Prof Powis said that the impact of panic-buying on healthcare workers was graphically illustrated in the widely-shared video of critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough, from York, weeping after finding her local supermarket empty of food after coming off a 48-hour shift.
“Frankly, we should all be ashamed that that has to happen,” he said. “It’s unacceptable.
“These are the very people that we will all need to look after us or our loved ones in the weeks ahead. It is critical that by not stockpiling, by not selfishly shopping, by leaving these supplies for others too, that our health workers are able to get access to what they need.”
Standing alongside Prof Powis, environment secretary George Eustice issued an plea to Britons to “be responsible when you shop and think of others”, particularly healthcare workers.
“There is no risk of food running out,” he said.
“Buying more than you need means that others may be left without, making life more difficult for those frontline workers, such as our doctors and nurses and NHS support staff, who are working so hard in such difficult circumstances.
“So as you shop, think of those who are finishing their late shifts and need to pop to the local shop at the end of a long day.”
He added: “There is more than enough food to go round and our food supply chain is able to expand production to cope with increased demand.”
The chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson, who took part in a call with supermarkets alongside Mr Eustice and prime minister Boris Johnson today, called on shoppers to “make sure they only buy what they need”.